2020: A Year in Review and looking forward





It has been one year since United Way of the Black Hills (UWBH) announced it’s new strategic framework - transitioning from a traditional fundraising model to addressing top community needs by creating new initiatives and funding organizations providing necessary services and resources through grant funding. 


We revitalized and redefined our commitment to fight for the education, financial stability, health and basic needs of every person in the Black Hills region. According to our 2019 Community Needs Assessment: accessibility and affordability of mental health resources was identified as the #1 pressing need in our community, followed by resources for substance abuse, early learning and child care opportunities, and access to food and affordable housing. As a result of our findings, we launched a new strategic framework and announced our new Mental Health Initiative under our health pillar.

In addition, our goal for 2020 was to design new grant opportunities to improve outcomes at a community level, link the interests and passions of our donors to opportunities to improve the lives of tens of thousands of families in the Black Hills who are struggling to make ends meet and have little hope for a brighter future.








The implementation of our strategic impact work started sooner than we anticipated when the COVID-19 pandemic hit our country, state and communities. We noticed the impact COVID-19 has made in the Black Hills, through illness, unemployment, and financial hardship.


In March 2020, we developed the UNITED We Stand COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to any nonprofit organization, schools, library, etc, in the Black Hills that have provided necessary services and supplies to our community. 

As a community leader in these crisis response efforts, we recognized that mental health services, access to basic needs such as food and shelter and lack of child care slots due to closed daycares were among the most critical needs.


Our COVID-19 response efforts correlated with the work we have identified as a clear focus based on our community needs. This fund raised $474,030 through donor support and corporate matches like ELEVATE Rapid City and Black Hills Energy. 100% of donations raised in this fund directly benefited those in need. Click here to learn more about our COVID-19 fund impact. 


This fund is a prime example of the work we do here at UWBH, everyday; working to solve immediate needs, while collaboratively working with our communities’ organizations to analyze the long-term impact and anticipated future needs.









UWBH launched the 2020-2021 fundraising campaign in September 2020, in an effort to raise $2,052,000 for nearly 50 nonprofit organizations. According to a COVID-19 Nonprofit Survey, 88% of nonprofit organizations experienced a negative impact due to the pandemic, citing the lack of donations, increase in demand of needs, etc. 

We knew that many of our funded agencies have experienced similar effects from their organizations, so we stepped up to the task of one of the areas that we specialize in -- fundraising.

This year, UWBH exceeded our goal with an astounding $2,150,715 raised, through the help of our many donors and supporters. 

Through both COVID-19 relief and campaign season fundraising efforts, we raised $2,624,745 in donations for the 2020 year! WOW! The most in donations that UWBH has ever raised in the past was $2,409,211 for the 2014-2015 campaign season. 

Over the next months, our UWBH board will review grant applications and determine the most effective way to utilize these additional donations raised beyond our 2020-2021 fundraising goal.







We are currently in the 2nd phase of our strategic transition and focus on community impact. What does this mean to you in the future? It means that you will have the ability to connect your donations to work you are most interested in helping and the confidence that it is going to your community’s greatest needs. 


Are you driven by making sure that children have quality after-school programs, mentorship opportunities, and early learning opportunities? 


Are you passionate about bringing mental health to the forefront and investing in services and resources that help with these needs? 


And more to come…


These are some of the many exciting ways you are able to invest in causes you are most passionate about. Or, if you want to support all of this work, you can continue to contribute to the area of greatest impact – we can assure you that we will invest your donation wisely. In addition, donors will still be able to make designated donations to the area you live (Rapid City, Sturgis, Northern Hills, Southern Hills). 


Our impact work will be outcome driven to illustrate the true power and long-term trajectory of your gift in the future. Your donation serves as an investment in the future health of your community, and we want you to visualize and fully understand how your donation TODAY is making a true difference for TOMORROW. We look forward to continuing our work into 2021 and communicating all of our communities’ accomplishments thanks to your support. UNITED, we can reimagine and rebuild our communities.


We sincerely thank you for your gratitude and commitment to your community. Please continue to stay safe and healthy during this time.



Jamie Toennies

Executive Director